In his Major League debut on April 12, 1998, Kerry Wood faced 21 batters, with seven of those plate appearances finishing with a strikeout. Wood's strikeout percentage (percentage of plate appearances concluding with a strikeout) of 33.3 that day turned out to be a harbinger of things to come, for when the regular season was complete, Wood had fanned 233 batters over a total of 699 plate appearances for a 33.3 strikeout percentage.
To put that figure into a simple context, no qualifying National League right-hander before Wood in the expansion era -- not Dwight Gooden, not Nolan Ryan, not J.R. Richard, not Jim Maloney, not Pedro Martinez -- had finished with a percentage that high.
And, as the infomercials so often exclaim, "there's more."
Since Wood compiled that extraordinary percentage, no NL right-hander has been able to match it. Wood's preeminence is just another reason that Stephen Strasburg's 2012 season remains so compelling.
Strasburg fanned 10 in seven innings and picked up his ninth win Wednesday, as the Nationals defeated the Rays, 3-2. Strasburg's strikeout percentage stands at 33.13 (110 strikeouts in 332 plate appearances) -- the highest in the NL. The most recent qualifying NL pitcher to finish a season with a percentage that high was lefty Randy Johnson, who ended at 37.4 percent in 2001.
In his first start since coming off the DL, Jered Weaver allowed two hits in six innings and combined with three Angels relievers on a four-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Giants.
Most AL Team Shutouts Through 70 Games (since 1973)
It was the fifth time this season Weaver finished a start with at least six innings and no runs allowed -- the most such games in the Majors. Seven other pitchers -- Johan Santana, Felipe Paulino, Brandon Morrow, Zack Greinke, Gio Gonzalez, R.A. Dickey and Ryan Dempster -- are tied for the second most, with four.
The work done by Weaver and relievers Jason Isringhausen, Scott Downs and Jordan Walden produced the club's 10th team shutout. In the DH-era (since 1973), the 2012 Angels are the seventh AL club to have as many as 10 shutouts through their first 70 games.
Playing in his 65th game of the season, Ryan Braun went 3-for-4 with a double (his 12th), home run (his 20th) and stole his 12th base of the season.
The game lifted Braun's slash line to .321/.400/.627 for the season. Last season, when he went on to win the NL MVP Award, Braun was sitting on a slash line of .308/.397/.563 after playing in his 65th game of the year.
Braun's ranks in the NL: eighth in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, tied for 2nd in slugging and OPS, 1st in home runs, tied for 13th in steals, tied for third in extra-base hits and tied for 1st in total bases.
David Ortiz hit his 11th career grand slam (his 10th with Boston) and the Red Sox defeated the Marlins, 15-5.
Boston has scored 10-plus runs in 11 games this season -- the most in the Majors. With his homer, Ortiz broke out of a tie with Rico Petrocelli and now has sole possession of second place for the most slams in Red Sox history. Only Ted Williams, with 17, hit more with Boston.
The D-backs got home runs from six different players and beat the Mariners, 14-10. The six homers in the game tied the franchise record, accomplished twice before (July 31, 2006, and May 19, 2010). Arizona was the first NL team to have six different players homer in a game since the Reds also had six on July 10, 2008.
Aaron Hill went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run -- his third straight game with one of each. Hill, the sixth player in D-backs franchise history to have two (or more) extra-base hits in three straight games, is batting .369 with a .769 slugging percentage in 17 games in June. During the month, Hill has 14 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs.
Here and there
The Braves defeated the Yankees, 10-5, out-homering New York, 5-4. In the contest, each starting pitcher -- Atlanta's Tommy Hanson and New York's Phil Hughes -- surrendered four home runs. It was the second time this season that both starters allowed at least four homers, with the other occurrence taking place on May 27 in a game between the Rockies and Reds. Before this season, it hadn't happened since 2006.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit his 28th career homer to lead off the game, tying Eddie Yost and Davey Lopes for 15th all-time.
The Royals defeated the Astros, 2-1, improving to 31-36 for the season. Since dropping the final game of their 12-game losing streak, on April 24, Kansas City owns a 28-22 record -- the third-best winning percentage in the American League over that span. During that stretch, the Royals have allowed 201 runs -- the fourth fewest in the AL.
Indians starter Justin Masterson struck out nine with no walks and allowed one unearned run on three hits in a complete-game, 8-1 victory over the Reds. The Cleveland right-hander, who has allowed one earned run over his most recent 23 innings, posted a game score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 88 for this performance against Cincinnati -- the highest for an Indians pitcher since Cliff Lee posted a score of 90 on April 24, 2008. Masterson's 88 is the highest for an Indians righty since Kevin Millwood put up an 88 on May 9, 2005.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.